A blog by runners. For runners.

There’s only one way to the finish line: by completing the race (Runner’s column)

it takes the art of restraint to both start and finish well.

The cast of characters behind the scenes of the Rockstar’s 2011 game of the year, Red Dead Redemption, rivals those behind the scenes of a Hollywood blockbuster. Video games are art. We aren’t going to debate this. But this form of art may not hold the same stock in an increasingly busy world. Social media platform, Raptr, studied more than 23 million game sessions and found only 10 percent of gamers completed the final mission in Red Dead Redemption.

Proponents of the great outdoors, rejoice! Less screen time may equal more outdoor time; more scraped knees and less early-onset arthritis. And really, who can set aside 67 hours to complete an open-world video game?

On the other hand, this disparity is tragic. And I don’t use that term lightly. That means the passions, endeavors, and visions of so many creative minds were never fully felt and realized.

And sadly, this incomplete mentality is one that seems all too common nowadays. Henry David Thoreau famously said:

All endeavor calls for the ability to tramp the last mile, shape the last plan, endure the last hour’s toil. The fight to the finish spirit is the one characteristic we must possess if we are to face the future as finishers.

Tramp the last mile. Finish the race. Complete the task before you celebrate.

All this seems to be forgotten more often than not.

Twice in the last month, a leader of the pack in a collegiate race began the celebration too early only to be passed in the final inches of the race. I smack my forehead every time I see it. I’m tempted to say “it happens to the best of us,” in the way I empathize with anyone who suffers, but this is vain-glory at its worst.

Anyone can start a race fast, just like anyone slap paint on a canvass. But it takes the art of restraint to both start and finish well. Granted, it’s kind of cute for a second when middle schoolers toe the line at a competitive 5K, but when they can’t keep the pace they started, they become road blocks.

We’re so focused on how we look, how we appear in the moment. We suck in our guts; puff out our chests; fake it till we make it. But anyone who starts a race too fast knows the feeling of doom and dread; when the smile turns to a grimace; when blood turns to lead. The finishing steps, the last lap, the final miles can be more challenging than every step that came before combined.

It’s no wonder why many marathoners divide the race into two seemingly uneven halves. 20 miles and 6.2. The math adds up in more ways than one. But in the end, no one asks (or cares to ask) how well you ran your first 20 miles. It’s the final 6.2, the final mile, the final lap, the final stretch that requires the most grit and willpower; more mind than matter.

Written by Stephen Marcin.

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